1994-96 – Concern Worldwide

1994-96 – Concern Worldwide

Concern Worldwide, Ireland’s premier humanitarian agency, asked Mullan to join the agency to help it respond in an appropriate manner to the approaching 150th anniversary of Ireland’s Great Hunger.

Key initiatives Mullan executed during his tenure with Concern Worldwide were the following:

Editor of A Glimmer of Light: An Overview of Great Hunger Commemorative Events in Ireland and Throughout the World (Dublin: Concern Worldwide, 1995);

Lecture tour of six major US cities: New York, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington DC and Chicago. His lecture in Chicago led to the setting up of a Concern Worldwide Group in the city which remains, outside of New York, Concern’s second most important hub; a fact acknowledged in the book ‘Aengus Finucane: In the Heart of Concern’ by Deirdre Purcell (Dublin 2015).

A joint lecture tour with Choctaw artist, Gary White Deer, throughout Ireland and Irish Centres in the UK;

A National Geographic documentary with actor Gabriel Byrne;

The support of Irish singer, Mary Black, for the annual Concern Christmas campaign;

During the first visit of President Bill Clinton to Ireland in 1995, Mullan surprised his colleagues when he calmly, and with good humour, worked with the Gardai and the US Secret Service to create an opportunity for a Concern volunteer to meet the US President who placed a US$20 bill in a Concern collection box, after visiting Cassidy’s Pub, just across from Concern’s headquarters on Camden Street, Dublin 2.

Irish Times, August 1995: National Botanic Gardens, Concern Worldwide Great Hunger Commemoration

Mullan’s biggest undertaking was a major gathering at the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin, Dublin, on 20 August 1995. On that day in 1845, the Gardens curator, David Moore, noted the presence of the blight bearing fungus within the vegetable plot. Moore knew that the fungus was present on mainland Europe and realised that if it reached Ireland, it could have devastating consequences, given the dependency on the potato by the majority of Ireland poor and dispossessed population. Mullan recognised that this date might be considered the actual beginning of the Great Famine. With colleagues in Concern he organised within the Gardens a moving ceremony, which included speeches, music, reflections and a performance by the Galloping Cat Theatre Company, whose enactment of a desolate funeral scene, silenced the large gathering of public and diplomats, including the British Ambassador, and made the front cover of the Irish Times the following day.

Irish Times, 21 August 1995, Headline

Donal Synott, then curator of the National Botanic Gardens, later stated that the Great ‘Famine’ Commemoration organised by Concern Worldwide, was the highlight to their bi-centenary year.

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